Saturday, December 17, 2016

walking on water: the beginning of a story about love and foster care

“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders...let me walk upon the waters…wherever you would call me.”

Just over three months ago, we were blessed to add a precious girl to our family through foster care. It's hard to explain what this process has meant and felt like, except it is the closest thing to walking on water that I have ever done.  

To be honest, I’ve never really related to Peter.  When I’ve read the text of Matthew 14:22-33, I mainly connected to the part where the disciples on the boat are scared when they see Jesus on the waves.  Because I can do scared like nobody’s business.  But Peter, he always seemed brash, implusive, and uneducated to me, and those are some things that I am not.  I always thought if he just took a minute before he got out of the boat, maybe he would have thought things through a bit and he wouldn’t have started sinking.  

Now, though, I get it. Peter knew his Lord. He knew who was in control. He knew he'd been called to live a life different than the one he'd imagined, and he was just trying to be with Jesus. Then things got hard and scary and there was nothing he could do to control the situation. But Jesus caught him.

And, goodness, if that isn't my life everyday now. I've been hanging out with Jesus for a long time. But most of that time, I've been in the boat. (There was that one time.) It's pretty safe there and there's Bible studies and worship music. All that time though, in the boat, there was this growing feeling we had that we were supposed to do this: welcome a child, a stranger, with baggage (not literally, she came with her school backpack and a bike). And love her dearly and help her feel safe and remind her and ourselves that we have a good, good Father. And He was walking on these waves before we showed up.

It's hard. There's days I feel like Jesus is holding my head just above water because I've totally lost sight of His sovereignty. There's days I try to take control and my worry and frustration spirals. In that though, there's generosity and love, family and friends who have been so supportive, prayers felt, two sweet girls who have loved and shared so much with their new sister, and a truly beautiful and brave little girl.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Cadence is 8! An Interview

It's very hard to believe we have an 8 year old in this house!  I love this age where she has so many ideas and plans and can execute them herself.  Cadence is tenacious, sensitive, and curious.  She's obsessed with dolphins.  We gave her a lego set that's just all sorts of bricks so she could build what she wants.  She was very excited to answer these yearly interview questions because she feels like she has so much better answers now that she's older.

Favorite color: "I have two. Blue and silver."
Favorite book: Time for Bed and Snow Babies.  "They're so cute!"
Favorite food: Pizza!!!!
Favorite dessert: Ice Cream
Favorite song: "Safe" by Westlife
Favorite subject at school: Science and art.
Favorite place to go: "To the dining hall and to school. So I can see my friends."
Favorite toy: My Dolphin Tale Set
Favorite Show: Lego Friends
Favorite Movie: A Dolphin Tale
Favorite Restaurant: Chik-fil-a
What do you want to be when you grow up?: "I want to work at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium because Winter is there."
How many teeth have you lost?: 8

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Piper is 5!

Today we are celebrating 5 years of Piper!  She is a totally fun kid who loves stories, animals, taking fashion risks, and playing with her sister.  We're so proud of her for going to school all day and working so hard.  Here are her answers to her birthday interview, which are not that different from last years' answers.  (Just for fun, here's the interviews for 4, 3, and 2.)

Favorite food: Fried Okra

Favorite animal: "Every kind of big cat.  But my most favorite one is a lion."

Favorite show: Paw Patrol

Favorite book: Immi's Gift

Favorite song: New Annie Songs

What do you want to be when you grow up?  "I don't know yet."

Where do you want to live when you grow up?  "Somewhere, wait, somewhere with lots of animals."

Favorite thing to play: Puppy Park

Favorite Color: "I'll tell you my least favorite, because I have lots. Black."

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Sitting on the porch at the beginning of a thunderstorm. I LOVE rain with a love that has been passed down through a couple generations. Somehow this summer has often felt like a big to-do list, and right now I'm ignoring the list and making myself sit for just a few minutes.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

what we're loving now {June 2016}

Here's what we were into in June:
*posting late because of internet problems

Making headbands! - My friend Stephanie came over several times this month so I could help her learn to sew.  I haven't sewn in FOREVER and this reminded me that it's fun!  I made myself two cute headbands using this tutorial.

Animal Hair Salon - The girls like beautifying jungle animals with this free app.  I think it's a little weird, but they take turns happily.

Visiting Nana, Dadder, and Uncle Mattie- Since Matt was gone to Asia for almost two weeks, the girls and I went to visit my family for a few days.  My brother is living with my parents while he goes to school, so it was extra fun to be together.  In the pic, we went to a farm to buy a bag of fresh peaches and eat peach ice cream. Yum.

Smoothies - I've long put spinach and shredded carrots into smoothies, but this month I found out that you can put frozen okra into a smoothie with cocoa powder and it totally disappears into the chocolately-ness.

Blackberries and fireflies - summer essentials, both currently available in our yard!

Currently Reading: Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts.  Inspired by listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and celebrating The Fourth of July.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sandbridge 2016

Our annual family beach trip was so great, as usual.  We had amazing weather and did some fun things that are possible now that the girls are older, like driving down to the Outer Banks and seeing the wild horses and riding the Ferris Wheel at the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. (I don't have pictures of that though!)

We went on a tour to see the wild horses down in Corolla, NC
More wild horses
Matt and the girls made a giant castle!
Sand Angel

Adding to GrandNana's shell garden

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What we're loving now (May 2016)

Summer Break! - That's right.  May has come to an end, the girls have been out of school for a couple of weeks and I do not have to be at work everyday (although I still have some tasks to finish up).  We are enjoying sleeping in a bit and lots of play.  For a loose schedule, I came up with some helpful alliteration - Breakfast and Bible Story, Lunch and Learning time, and Snack and Silent Reading.  We have these tent poles in our day that so far are helping.  I'm still figuring out how to not run our tiny dish washer 2-3 times a day (oh, dining hall, I miss you!) and how to not be overwhelmed by the shoes, toys, and papers strewn all over the house.

Mystery Garden and Frozen Uno - Mystery Garden was handed down to us a year or two ago, but now we are really into it.  It's actually a pretty level playing field - Piper is really good at it!  Dassa brought Frozen Uno when she came to visit and Cadence is super into it.  She even strategizes against you and will slap you with a Draw 4 card faster than I thought possible.

Princess in Black by Shannon and Dean Hale - I read about this fun, easy chapter book and knew it was perfect for Cadence.  I've enjoyed Shannon Hale's books for older kids and adults and the idea of a princess who is also a superhero was very appealing.  Sure enough, when she returned from camping with Nana and Dadder, she read the whole thing immediately.  We've got the next two on hold at the library.

The Sixties and The Seventies - Matt and I have been enjoying these CNN documentary series on Netflix and learning a lot about the decades before we were born.  We've finished The Seventies and we're watching The Sixties right now.  The one about the JFK assassination may have sent us down some conspiracy theory rabbit holes...

Popples - Speaking of Netflix, apparently reboots of shows/toys from my childhood are popular, and Netflix has a series about Popples.  Piper came home from the camping trip obsessed with my old Popples nightgown (I've had to stop her from wearing it on outings!) and Cadence remembered seeing the show on her recommended list, so now we're 4 episdoes in.  It's zany fun about friendship.

Charmkins - These are also an 80s throwback.  I had a lot of these tiny, adorable, wearable toys and while Cadence has played with them in the past, now she LOVES them.  Doesn't want to put them away.  We found the half hour TV movie on Youtube a few weeks ago too.  Thank goodness for my mom who can't throw anything beloved away.  (But she did let me sell all of my My Little Ponies at a yard sale.)

Crockpot sweet potatoes - This couldn't be easier, so you're welcome.  No need to turn on the oven in the summer if a crockpot is handy.

Monday, April 18, 2016

And now we are raising caterpillars...

Meet Spike, Edie, Annie, Sadie, and Beau. If we do this right, we will have some painted lady butterflies in a few weeks.

Friday, April 01, 2016

what we're loving now {March 2016}

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - I got the idea to read out loud a little to Cadence on the bus when I am the afternoon parent chaperone.  I enjoy my current job, but I miss the magic of read-a-loud we all enjoyed back when I was doing storytimes in public libraries.  I did not expect how much the other kids would get excited about the story too.  Narnia! Narnia! We only have a few more pages to go, and then we have to pick the next book I'll read to them.  Cadence and Piper want to have a Narnia birthday party this year, and that will lead you down a wonderful Pinterest rabbit hole, let me tell you.  (I had a hard time keeping my composure when I read the passage below before Easter.)

Odd Squad - I felt like this live action PBS kids show would really appeal to the girls (two secret agent kids seek to solve odd problems with math), and they finally got into it on our way back from Virginia at the end of spring break.  It's math (Cadence's favorite school subject) and offbeat humor (Piper's life).  Matt and I giggled some too.

Ramona and Beezus - We picked this up from the public library on a whim for our family movie night and loved it.  It's a sweet adaptation of several of the Beverly Cleary Ramona books.

My Noonday Cow Horn Earrings - Matt and Piper got me these for Christmas, and I've been wearing them, well, A LOT.  I get a lot of compliments - in fact, I wore them today. I love Noonday Collection and its support of third world artisans.

Happy April!

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

What we're loving now {February 2016}

Some of the things we enjoyed in the month of February:

Rainbow Magic Fairies books - Cadence has been reading these for her independent reading homework each night for a couple weeks now.  There are fairies, and jewels, and some girls who become friends with the fairies, and she loves them.

A Chef's Life - I watch this PBS show on my Kindle when I run on the elliptical in our garage.  (Which I don't do as much as I should, so I'm still in season 1).  It follows chef Vivian Howard and her restaurant in the eastern North Carolina town where she grew up and swore she'd never return.  Each episode focuses on a quintessential Southern ingredient (sweet potatoes, rice, collards) and she visits farms and family friends while also using the ingredient in her restaurant.  Part reality show about running a business, part cooking show with recipes and demos, and part homage to life in the South, it's really fun.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Laura Markham and Parenting the Wholehearted Child by Jeannie Cunnion - God's been doing some work on my mama heart, rooting out my desires for perfection and control that come out in unfortunate ways.  I finished the first book last week and am currently reading  Cunnion's.  I'm not sure I agree with everything, but the focus in both books on connection and grace is very helpful to me.  I've been thinking about how misbehavior can signal a need for love and connection and an opportunity to deal with big feelings.  I think this is so often true not just of my girls, but the "big kids" that I work with.  Some of the most negative and unruly students are in need of someone to notice them and build a connection.

1969 Mustang Grande - After almost 6 years as a one car family, Matt bought a classic car for a hard-to-argue-with low price.  He's excited.  Whatever.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

What We're Loving Now {January 2016}

What we've been watching, reading, eating, living:

Sofia the First - the second season of this show went up on Netflix recently and the girls' just finished it.  "I'm finding out what being royal's all about..making my way, it's an adventure everyday."  The theme song is REALLY catchy, but Piper won't let me sing it.  

Bunk Beds - Cadence may not always be super excited to have her little sis in her room, but the bunk beds have none the less proven to be a lot of fun.  Piper figured out how to hang blankets from the top bunk in optimum fashion, so...

Downtown Abbey - You know, it's been a lot of ups and maybe more downs with this show, right?  I'm watching on the pbs website since we don't have TV, so I'm at least a day behind.  I'm really glad that Carson and Mrs. Hughes are married and that Edith has such fabulous headbands.

Homemade popcorn - I can't eat microwave popcorn anymore; I just can't.  We eat my homemade popcorn frequently and it kinda saved the day during the snow extravaganza.  I've developed my technique: popped in coconut oil, sprinkled with kosher salt.  Or tahin.  Or popped with coconut oil and sugar, then sprinkled with salt, which is kettle corn-y perfection.

The life changing magic of tidying up - I already wrote about this.  It feels really good to be letting go of things that we can send to a better home.  Or the dump.  The bookshelf in our living room has never looked so good.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

We're tidying up!

 At the end of December, I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and got very excited.  There are some crazy parts of this book, for sure, but I loved Kondo's thorough methods for going through your stuff and paring down to what sparks joy.  The amount of stuff in our house had really started to bother me - it was hard to clean and hard to put things away.  We have only sporadically decluttered after moving here, and we still had stuff like we lived in a much bigger house.

She recommends going through each category of item in your home and looking at them all together and touching each one.  So, that's all my shoes.  (Clearly, I owned two many pairs of shoes.)  It seems like a simple thing, but gathering all the things makes it much easier to see what sparks joy and what's just a duplicate and what I actually forgot I had in my closet.

This is all our cups on the kitchen table.  There are 4 people in this house.  I don't believe we've ever had more than 8 people eat a meal here.  I had no idea we had so many until I pulled them out of the cabinets.

13 bags/boxes have left our house so far.  Matt and I have done clothes, books, and papers, and started slowly on the miscellaneous stuff, like DVDs and cups.  We haven't even started on the rest of the kitchen cabinets or the girls' massive wardrobes and toy collections!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

First Snow 2016

This is just the first's still coming down!